TWU grad captures vision for the future of medicine

Langley, B.C.—This April, thousands of university graduates will walk down the red carpet, accept their graduation certificate and throw off their hats in triumphant acts of liberation. Many of those students will move to larger cities, climb big corporate ladders and strive for careers of huge monetary success. Others may find themselves in less focused career paths, no more certain of their life’s direction than when they first began their studies.

Kiely Williams doesn’t fit neatly into any of those categories. This bright, young, pre-professional biology graduate from Trinity Western University knows where she’s headed—but it’s not to the big city and its no corporate ladder. This 21 year-old will be applying for medical school, after which she hopes to return to her hometown of Yellowknife to begin life as a doctor. Her dream? To see her hometown open a clinic that incorporates a holistic, team-based approach to medicine, healing and caring for people.

Like most small communities spread over a large geographical area, Yellowknife and its surrounding populations would benefit greatly from further healthcare support. Currently in the Northwest Territories there are only three hospitals to serve the entire area: one regional hospital in Yellowknife, home of 20,000 residents, and two smaller hospitals in Inuvik and Hay River. The surrounding communities have only small health centres, if any facilities at all, to serve anywhere from 300 to 3000 residents.

“It’s quite transient,” says Williams of the hospital. “A lot of the time what happens is that new graduates go to the Northwest Territories to get medical experience, because it’s easier to get in; but once they get that experience, they leave again. There is a lot of turn-over among doctors as well, so there’s a lot less consistency for patients who live there.”

Seeing the need for stability, combined with her interest in health, healing and people, inspired Williams’s vision. “I’ve always wanted to be a doctor,” she says. “Even just walking into a hospital makes me want to be one. I feel like I’m created for it. There are a lot of things that bother me about the medical profession right now and I feel like I could make a difference if I were involved in it.”

Making a difference means opening the holistic clinic in the Northwest Territories. “The facility would incorporate a doctor’s office, just like a regular clinic, but it would also offer psychiatric help and different types of therapy like music or art therapy. The intention is to treat the whole person,” says Williams. “In pursuing a science degree, I’ve found that everything is so interconnected. You can’t separate parts of a machine and still have it work—just like you can’t segment the body and still have it work as a whole.”

The idea of a holistic approach for a medical facility is fairly new, but the young student is seeing a change in perspective. “In talking with other health care professionals it sounds like there is a real need for this,” says Williams. “There’s a shift going on right now, however there’s tension with people who hold a more paternalistic view of medicine and people who want a holistic view. But there’s definitely room for both.”

Williams explains the common tension among North American patients and their medical examiners. “Essentially doctors are trained to know what’s best, but they can’t know everything. People go to the doctor because they know they’re sick. The doctor examines the patient with what he or she knows to look for, but when they can’t find anything wrong, they tell the patient they aren’t sick—but patients know they are. If the doctor can’t tell the patient what’s wrong, maybe someone else can. That’s why I think a team based approach to medicine is critical. If you bring psychology and therapy experts into the picture, you’re more likely to find the root of hidden problems,” she says.

Williams credits her focus on a holistic view to her experiences at Trinity Western, but she admits that the university wasn’t originally a part of her long term goals. “My plan was always to go to TWU for one year of Christian education,” says Williams. “I was then going to go to school in Alberta. But when I got to Trinity I was really impressed. The science program is amazing. Because of wise money allocation and the smaller class sizes, we get to do more things in the labs that bigger schools don’t get to do. And we have high quality professors who really know what they’re talking about. So before my first year was up I knew I’d be at TWU till I graduated.” And on Saturday, April 26, 2003, she did. Congratulations to Kiely Williams, and all the 2003 graduates from Trinity Western University and the rest of B.C.!

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Last Updated: 2015-07-13
Author: Keela Keeping